When I go climbing outside, I am very aware of the dangers and the importance of preparing. Step-by-step I look over my harness, my rope and the rest of my gear. Are there any serious signs of ware?
Any loose threads? Anything passed its “safe use” expiration date? If I am not on the lookout for these issues, I might find myself not just having a miserable day trying to climb, but in a potentially fatal situation.
While sexual addiction isn’t as immediately lethal as some substance addictions, it can quickly corrode and kill a life that could otherwise be worth living!
When you have acknowledged that sexual addiction treatment is necessary, it is worth moving step-by-step through a process so that you can avoid unnecessarily miserable experiences, stop putting yourself in harm’s way, and have the greatest chance to thrive.
Warning Sign that I Need Treatment
Both men and women benefit from sex addiction treatment, but often the warning signs are gender nuanced. The nuances shouldn’t be much of a surprise as we know men and women differ (generally speaking).
The best way to discern if there are warning signs is simply to take an online self-test. A test for men is the SAST (found at www.recoveryzone.com) and for women is the W-SAST (found at www.freedomeveryday.org).
More generally though, if you are experiencing intrusive sexual thoughts, a reduced ability to attend to normal life due to sexual activities, self-harm resulting from sex or sexual partners, or you feel shame about your sexual behavior it is worth considering if you may have a sexual addiction (1).
What Does Treatment Entail?
There are two major areas that treatment should address. Firstly problematic behaviors should be stopped, and interventions planned to help refrain from continuing addictive behaviors.
Secondly, a process of internal exploration, growth, and healing should occur where the underlying causes of the addiction are identified and addressed at an emotional and cognitive level.
Inpatient settings can start both of these processes in a controlled format that allows you to make a life-altering change.
This change can be incredibly helpful, yet requires a high degree of commitment up front to integrate the learning and change that takes place so it can be implemented after the program. Outpatient settings work best when resources are combined.
Both recovery groups that meet anywhere from daily to weekly and individual counseling should be pursued.
The group will primarily focus on reducing behaviors, and counseling will primarily focus on internal change (although they certainly overlap).
What Type of Self-work Will I do in Treatment?
Whichever route you go, there are some primary tasks that need to be accomplished in treatment. This list isn’t definitive, rather, one based on clinical experience, research, and training:
- Behavior change—very practical reorientations of daily activities and choices
- Coping skills—when you remove an addiction you need to learn how to cope with emotional distress and turmoil in new adaptive ways
- Self-efficacy—a new stronger sense of self as valuable, worthwhile and connected needs to be built
- Relational intimacy—the ability to form meaningful relationships that sustain you need to be cultivated
- Negotiating values—where you learn to live according to your values and an alternative set of motivations
Where Can I Find Help?
It is wise to start this journey by contacting a mental health professional who specializes in sexual addiction.
Two ways to find a counselor with an appropriate certification is to use the website “Psychology today” and search for therapists with a specialization in sexual addiction or contact a CSAT (certified sex addiction therapist) designated therapist.
Starting with a local psychotherapist, you can collaboratively discern what gear you might need for the journey—just like my counseling trips. Together you can determine the answer to questions such as, do you need a higher level of care, more contact, etc.?
If you are already aware that you need an intensive or highly structured level of care, inpatient help may be what you need. I would recommend consulting the resources section of the book “The Porn Trap” to find specific treatment centers (2). You can also find them through an Internet search.
How Should a Professional Support Me?
A professional should help you firstly discern the level of care you need, and help you locate it.
After that, a professionals support should include learning new skills, attending to blind spots, challenging denial, holding you accountable and helping you build your own motivation for change.
The process of sex addiction treatment cannot be maintained by someone else wanting you to “get better,” you need to figure out why you want this change for yourself.
My Next Steps
Take the following action steps to discern what care you may need and to start using it.
- Take the SAST or W-SAST test
- Locate and contact a sex addiction specialist counselor
- Contemplate why you want to change and how you can use this information to do so
- Admit to yourself any hesitancy and resolve to continue with recovery
- Find local support groups that you can join
- Ask the professionals you have located any questions you have
- Don’t attempt this journey in isolation—find someone to talk to about it
About the author: Paul Loosemore, MA PLPC, author of “21 Movements Towards Life” – The step-by-step guide to recovering from sexual addiction or pornography. Paul works as a mental health counselor, and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction—both individuals and couples. He is the founder of www.stopsexualaddiction.com where you can find his guide, or contact him.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on October 2, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 2, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com